November 2007 Archives
November 29, 2007
Flogging a Dead Teddy Bear
I was hoping this would go away and that I therefore would not have to withdraw my head from the sand and confront the farce that is the Mohammed teddy bear story. Almost no aspect of this saga can be taken seriously in that I actually marvel at how newsreaders can keep a straight face when using the words ‘teddy bear’ and ‘flogging’ in the same breath. That said however, it is indeed gravely serious. I have no doubt the teacher in question will not be subjected to the full barbaric punishment (only because Sudan’s version of Sharia law is so cosmetic and floggings, amputations and stonings rarely, if ever take place) but what is worrying is how far the Sudanese local authorities are willing to go to flex some muscle.
To Myrtus: On Women's Headgear
I've had a courteous but frank exchange of views with the anglophone Dutch-Moroccan blogger Myrtus on the small matter of women's headgear. I responded to an article of hers, in which she had in turn responded to a comment of mine. You'll find my response below, after some courteous - what else? - prompting from another equally courteous blogger.
The foulard in France, therefore, is nothing more than a fig leaf; however long one stares at it, the eye will eventually have to face the nakedness of racism and discrimination.
To paraphrase another French philosopher: I do not approve of the headscarf, but I will defend to the death the right of women to wear it
November 27, 2007
Hirsi Ali: Ideological Chameleon
First, I curse SP for pointing out this latest interview with the infuriating headline: Ayaan Hirsi Ali: My life under a fatwa. Boys and girls, we've been over this before. A fatwa is not an ummah-wide execution order, it is a ruling issued by an Islamic scholar in response to a specific legal question. I wrote about this distinction almost two years ago, when Wafa Sultan told the New York Times that Dr. Ibrahim al-Khouli had issued a "fatwa" when he called her an atheist during a TV interview.
Listen, you credulous glurge-sucking Western journalists, just because some idiot Ayatollah lobbed one at Rushdie almost two decades ago doesn't make every random statement by a Muslim (scholar or fanatic) a fatwa. Nor is a fatwa binding across the universe (else a lot of Muslim women with plucked eyebrows are going to hell). Of course, the f-word does score a lot of publicity amongst the chattering classes, which is why every faux reformer wants one.
But let's get on to the actual article, shall we?
Annapolis Semi-Open Thread
In Annapolis, Maryland, USA, another round of peace efforts commences in the Great Intra-Semite Parking Space Quarrel ("You have 22 other parking spaces!"/ "Well, you're not really a car!"/"God stamped this ticket!"). It -- the conference not the quarrel -- will last for "as long as [Rice] feels there is a good, solid and productive discussion." Have at it.
November 24, 2007
Not in my name
Saudi Arabia claims that it applies Islamic law. In doing so, this medieval country is tarnishing - again - my identity as an Arab and as a Muslim.
November 18, 2007
Development Idiocies & Developing Business in MENA
A short note, a rant, a bit of despair on the sheer idiocy of "economic development programs" and the combined worst of private and public sectors.
The following of course is not family friendly but does represent the frustration of one man trying to finance useful things in MENA. However, I do believe it important to discuss in a fairly brutal manner my observations (and ill-informed thoughts) on promoting investment and growth in MENA.
November 15, 2007
Pakistan Semi-Open Thread
As things seem to be going to hell there, and as none of the posters here pretend to any particular insight or experience about Pakistan, I'm going to just open up a thread and let our commenters have at it.
November 13, 2007
The Road Most Travelled
So I met up with an old friend of mine from home the other day. We had not seen each other for almost five years but had communicated regularly on email and the occasional phone call. I have a lot of time for her as over the years, she had not gone down that road which inevitably most of my childhood girlfriends trod, namely, marrying the first semi-respectable loser that came along and promptly disappearing into a world of children, family responsibilities and that slightly haughty smug security of not being talked about anymore (you know who you are).
November 11, 2007
Iraq as Lebanon: the Syrian model
Abu Aardvark has recently hosted a discussion by Colin Kahl and Brian Katulis on Iraq policy, (see here, here, here and the Aardvark's response here). It seems as good a place as any to take off on the question of where the "Anbar Awakening" and current US policy in Iraq seems to be heading.
November 10, 2007
Infidel Review: Packaged Phobias
Yes, in in breaking news, the long-awaited mysterious review of Hirsi Magan/Ali has been sighted.
It is perhaps not off to share as well, The Financial Times very able critical review of a related genre of Islamophobic literature, that of the statistically illiterate "Eurabia" genre to which in many ways Hirsi Magan/Ali belongs.
MENA Reform: Dead Hand of the State & Great Cairo
Returning to issues financial and economic, and in homage to our classic Cairo building post from 2005, I draw attention to a fine, if short, article in The Financial Times on the nefast influence of the dead hand of the Egyptian state, and the politics of pious posturing on the living standards and housing quality in Cairo, the Great Dump.
A few key items to highlight, as they are general lessons for the region, and indeed for emerging markets, largely around the failure of socialist and unrealistic, indeed wooley headed "progressive Left" interventionism.
November 08, 2007
Jasim & The Argot Naughts: Why That Name in Iraq?
I come up with naught when I search memories of Eastern Mediterranean Arabs and their dialects, patois, and argots, for Jasim and variants as personal names. Yet every single flippin' story from Iraq has someone named Jasim in it. What's the deal with that? (And yes, my worst allusion-pun ever.)
November 07, 2007
Following a somewhat, ahem, impaired reflexion but understanding not everyone reads me Lounsbury blog, I thought it useful to raise this issue beyond our usual "Monthly Open Comment," and reflect on communicating MENA issues to the ordinary Anglo-Saxon World, the US of A being particularly important given the bombers - rather like the old dreadnoughts of yore, etc
The question that kicks us in the bloody cojones is: "What is our bloody motherfucking bloody value add?"
We can get quoted in Belgravia or chez Andrew Sullivan, but it is easy being in style or not as it were, and to lose track of the real value of a "MENA blog" - and one that bites all the hands that can feed it. If we are not delivering added value...well what is the fucking point?
For me, if we can provide a collective input that is at once local and international but neither Islamophobe nor Islamophile (to say more clearly non-partisan because personally I bloody well hate both parties - indeed to be frank, eerie and I are agreed on this point for our...Islamic Agnosticisms). If that is useful, well I am bloody well fucking happy to risk a real job. But after two years and a bit of fatigue (and staggering transfer to the Cuban rhum sector) we need insights as I have zero doubt Aqoul is interesting and unique (machallah) but...voilà.
November 03, 2007
Strategery, Indeed: Lewis and Huntington
I have to borrow from the discussion on the previous thread the quotation below. It's from a book review of at-best mixed value but by someone with the knowledge to make the statement. Tell me its assertion is false. Please, God, please......
Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:14 PM
| Comments (13)
Filed Under: Central Asia , Foreign Policy & MENA , Gulf , Iraq War , Levant , MENA Region General , North Africa , Terrorism , US Foreign Policy
November 01, 2007
New Month Open Discussion
Another month has gone by, the Infidel review is still unfinished and Ibn Kafka's new house is still in its early stages (I got sidetracked after noticing some performance issues with the search/commenting functions).
However, in keeping with Lounsbury's hoary old tradition, here is our monthly open thread. New readers may introduce themselves and regulars may chatter aimlessly, ask us questions or post links of interest.
Actually, I've come across a couple of interesting news items myself. First, Karen Hughes, State's leading nitwit in charge of public diplomacy, has finally resigned. Second, North American gamers are frothing at the mouth over the impending XBox 360 release of Assassin's Creed, a historically-accurate video game that takes place during the Third Crusade. Amusingly, players assume the role of a hashshashin whose goal is to kill nine historical figures associated with the Crusade. Here's a YouTube demo for the nerd-inclined: